"If people expect a return of focus on the desktop, they'll be sorely disappointed," Miller said of users who have declined to migrate to Windows 8, anticipating that Microsoft will reverse course in its strategy to deemphasize the desktop and push customers toward the "Modern," nee "Metro" user interface (UI) and its touch-based app model.
At 2014's BUILD, Miller hopes to get a feel for how far Microsoft will stray from that strategy. "If they do, it will be a recognition by Microsoft that the OS is struggling a little bit."
Miller's "a little bit" was much kinder than others' comments portraying Windows 8's shortcomings. Even Thurrott, normally bullish on Microsoft, hammered the 2012 operating system, arguing that it was "tanking," and a "disaster" that Microsoft had to remedy by backing off the push to Metro.
According to Internet measurement firm Net Applications, Windows 8's and 8.1's combined user share of all computers reached 10.5% in December 2013, and 11.6% of all those running a form of Windows. Those numbers were less than half those of Windows 7 at the same point in its post-launch career.
Windows 8 fought headwinds not of its making, as consumers dramatically slowed their PC purchasing, opting instead to spend their dollars — and "computing" time — on tablets and smartphones. But that macro trend of declining PC shipments will not disappear by 2015, forcing Windows 9 to face the same adoption obstacles.
"Selling Windows is [getting] harder and harder," Silver said.
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